'Notre Dame exemplifies me as a person'

Wide receiver C.J. Sanders, who chose the Irish over finalists Duke, Stanford and USC, explains why Notre Dame is the perfect for him.

C.J. Sanders describes himself as the type of guy who goes after what he wants. And, most recently, Sanders decided he wanted to be a part of the Irish

"When I see something I want, I don't see any point in holding back," Sanders said. "I visited Notre Dame this past weekend with my mom, step-dad and younger sister. After the visit, I was very impressed. I loved it. I thought it was the place for me. So, I prayed about it and talked it over with my mom. I woke up this morning, and knew what I wanted to do. I called Coach (Scott) Booker and then Coach (Brian) Kelly and told them I was committing."

Sanders, rated as a three-star wide receiver by Scout.com, said he chose the Irish over finalists Duke, Stanford and USC.

All considered academically impressive programs, Sanders said Notre Dame's offense set the Irish apart from the others.

"They are kind of switching up their offense," Sanders said. "With Everett Golson coming back and Blake Barnett coming in, they are going to be more of a spread offense and are going to utilize the slot wide receiver. I see a real opportunity to make a big difference in that offense."

Sanders didn't plan on pulling the trigger after his visit this weekend, but the timing made all the difference.

"It caught me by surprise how much I loved it," Sanders said. "Notre Dame exemplifies me as a person. And, I really like their system. They need a slot guy right now, so the timing was great."

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound wide receiver, who captained Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.) his junior year, says his best qualities on the field, apart from his speed and shiftiness, are his intangibles.

"I'm a big energy guy," Sanders said. "I'm a playmaker and a leader. I'm a team contributor first."

Sanders caught 43 passes for 665 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also returned three punts for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Sanders also finished second in the state in 2013 in the 100-meter dash, finishing in 10.64 seconds. That speed, and athleticism, is due in part to some rather ideal genes.

Sanders' father, Chris Sanders, played at Ohio State in the early 90's and was a third round draft pick in the NFL. His mother was a point guard at Michigan in college.

"It's funny because I'm already used to the rivalries," Sanders said. "Now, Notre Dame is in the mix in our family. My parents are really happy for me right now, but I'm sure as we talk about it more there will be some jokes thrown around."

Sanders' step-dad, Corey Harris, was a third round draft pick out of Vanderbilt, and he went on to win a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.

"My dad played wide receiver and my step-dad played safety, so they both teach me different things I need to know about playing my position," Sanders said. "They've definitely helped shaped me to be who I am today. My dad's taught me a lot about work ethic and outworking everybody on the field. He also told me if I like something (a school), don't be scared to commit."

Sanders also has experience with acting. Most notably, he played the young Ray Charles in the movie, "Ray."

"I still keep in touch with Jamie Foxx (who played the older Ray Charles in the film)," Sanders said. "That's another good reason to move to California. I'll get to see more of him and he can watch me play."

What's next for Notre Dame's newest commit?

A move to Sherman Oaks, California and a focus on reeling in more future Irish.

"I am moving to California at the beginning of June," Sanders said. "My step-dad has some new job opportunities out there, and I lived there a couple years when I was younger. I'm excited about it. I'll be attending Notre Dame High, which is kind of funny. It will be first time attending a Catholic school. It's crazy, everything happens for a reason."

Sanders has already been in touch with future Irish quarterback, Blake Barnett.

"We talked some today, and he's a really talented player," Sanders said. "I'm looking forward to getting to know him more. I am going to talk with him and Coach Booker and figure out who we need to go after."

Sanders, who played plans to be back at Notre Dame for an official visit in the fall.

"I don't know when it will be yet, but I'll definitely visit for an official visit," Sanders said. "I'll enjoy the California weather for a year and then get ready for Notre Dame. It's a great feeling."

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories